Dutch MP Under Fatwa on Trial for Hate Speech: ‘Freedom of Speech is the Only Freedom I Still Have’

By Barbara Hollingsworth | December 1, 2016 | 9:59am EST
Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) –  “I cannot remain silent,” Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders - who is currently on trial for allegedly inciting hatred against Islamic immigrants –  said last week in his final statement to the three-judge panel that will decide his fate.

“For me personally, freedom of speech is the only freedom I still have,” added Wilders, who is under round-the-clock security because of several Islamic fatwas that have been issued against him.

Wilders is charged with insulting a group based on race and inciting discrimination and hatred for asking  his Freedom Party (PVV) supporters whether they wanted “more or fewer Moroccans” in the Netherlands at a videotaped political rally in 2014.

When the crowd chanted: “Fewer, fewer, fewer,” Wilders, who founded the PVV, replied: “We’ll take care of it.”

“The trial touches on the foundations of society because two fundamental values are struggling for primacy, fundamental values of our free and democratic society: the ban on discrimination and the freedom of expression," Dutch prosecutor Wouter Bos said while summing up the government’s case against Wilders.

"Freedom of expression is not absolute. It goes hand-in-hand with obligations and responsibilities," Bos said.

The verdict in the case is expected on December 9th. The charges carry a maximum sentence of two years in prison or a €5,000 fine.

But Wilders reminded the judges that that he and his wife are already forced to live under “maximum security” with armed guards protecting them 24/7 due to a fatwa issued against him by al Qaeda in 2008 and an Australian imam’s call to have him decapitated in 2010.

“After twelve years in the absence of freedom, after living for security purposes, along with my wife, in barracks, prisons and shelters, I know what it means to be deprived of liberty,” Wilders told the court, noting that “the last shred of freedom that remains for me [is] my freedom of speech.”

“I must not be silent. I need to talk. Not only for myself but for the Dutch, for our country,” he continued.

“I have to use the only freedom we yet have to protect our country from Islam and terrorism. Immigration from Islamic countries. The huge problem of Moroccans in the Netherlands. I cannot remain silent about it. I have to talk about it. It is my duty… People who want to stop me will kill me first.”

 Wilders, who was previously acquitted in 2011 of charges that he criminally insulted and incited hatred towards Muslims, called his current trial “a farce” and “a charade” and insisted that the millions of people in the Netherlands who support him are not racists.

“They are people who want their country back and who are sick and tired of not being listened to,” he told the judges. “If you condemn me, you condemn half of the Netherlands.”

Wilders said that his “political trial ... would be appropriate in Turkey or Iran, where they also drag the opposition to court,” calling it “an embarrassment for the Netherlands.”

“What have I actually done to deserve this travesty?” Wilders asked. “I have spoken about fewer Moroccans... and I have asked questions to PVV members during a campaign event.

“And I did so, members of the court, because we have a huge problem with Moroccans in this country. And almost no-one dares to speak about it or take tough measures. My party alone has been speaking about this problem for years.”

A recent poll shows that the PPV would become the largest party in the Dutch Parliament if the election scheduled for March 2017 was held today. If the PVV’s popular support holds steady over the next three months, Wilders could become the Netherland’s new prime minister.

Wilders has called for banning the Koran and the wearing of face veils in public, the closure of all mosques and Islamic schools in the Netherlands, and “no more immigrants from Islamic countries.”

He also supports “Nexit” – the country’s withdrawal from the European Union - because of what he called “the stupidity” of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee asylum policies.

“There are villages in the Netherlands that have only 600 inhabitants and they have to accept many more asylum seekers than their own inhabitants,” Wilders said in October.

“She [Merkel] can invite anyone she wants but we did not invite them so they shouldn’t be able to come here,” he added. “We will decide ourselves who is welcome here.”

“Whether Wilders is acquitted or convicted, he will present himself as the Dutch Donald Trump, a crusader for the free word,” Henny Sackers, professor of administrative criminal law at Radboud University, told The Guardian. “It will always give him a potential electoral advantage.”

Related: Dutch Parliament Moves Forward with Partial Ban on Face Veils

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